Be My Voice 2021
Distributed by The Video Project, 145 - 9th St., Suite 230, San Francisco, CA 94103; 800-475-2638
Produced by Nahid Persson and Setareh Lundgren
Directed by Nahid Persson
Streaming, 83 mins
College - General Adult
International Relations; Iran; Women’s Rights
Date Entered: 05/15/2023Reviewed by Anonymous
In 2014, Iranians began taking pictures of themselves holding a hijab on a stick and posting them to Facebook. Doing so was an act of defiance: women in Iran have been required to cover their hair since the 1980s. This social media event was galvanized by activist and journalist Masih Alinejad, depicted here in this well-paced documentary, Be My Voice.
Both the film’s director, Nahid Persson, and Masih Alinejad were born in Iran, but the two had never met until the making of this film. When Persson travels from Sweden to meet Alinejad in New York, Alinejad opens her life up to the filmmaker. Alinejad grew up in a village in northern Iran where she eventually had many “firsts” as a woman there: first woman to get divorced, go to prison, and eventually, get kicked out of parliament for her journalism. Alinejad studies at Oxford, and eventually moves to New York, where she hosts the weekly program “Tablet” for the Voice of America Persian (Farsi) service. The program, like Alinejad’s social media activism, reaches Iranians both inside and outside of Iran.
While Alinejad is a public figure, Persson includes these public moments with the more intimate moments in Alinejad’s life: her love of gardening, her deep concern for the wellbeing of the activists in Iran who have been inspired by her, and her strain with her family still in Iran. Alinejad’s ability to communicate with her family is complicated by both her family and the Iranian government’s reactions to Alinajad’s activism, a reaction which has included the arrest of Alinajad’s brother. Watching all of this, viewers might ask: after over ten years away from Iran and all that has come from the activism, is it worth it? Perhaps Persson answers this question by showing Alinajad’s observation that “despite this, my life is full of passion and love.”
Awards: Pordenone Docs Fest, Audience Award; All About Freedom Festival, Audience Award
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